Brusque sounds warning to euro rivals
January 7, 2008

Nicolas Brusque believes Biarritz Olympique are coming good at just the right time to live up to their pre-tournament billing as the Pool 4 favourites and qualify for the quarter-finals for the sixth successive season.

The international full back - who has scored 17 tries in 57 Heineken Cup appearances for Pau and Biarritz - admits Biarritz have been under-achievers this season in both the Heineken Cup and Top 14 but that they are now steadily improving.

"We are not satisfied with our starts in either our national championship or the Heineken Cup," he said as they prepare for the big Pool match at Saracens on Saturday.

"We have had lots of changes in terms of players and in the type of game we wanted to put in place and that has made it difficult for us to adjust and find our pace. But it seems that by the end of 2007 we had managed to recapture some cohesion within the team and our reactions on the field.

"However, the number of injured players didn't help although thankfully this week we have a lot of them back, which is a good omen for the remainder of the games and for our away clash against Saracens.

"As far as we are concerned we consider this game a quarter-final in itself and we are going to prepare and approach it accordingly.

"Obviously we have already played Saracens so we know all about their qualities. And, since we played them in the Heineken Cup in season 2005 / 2006, they have progressed and play a game based on movement and phases.

"I think they have the capabilities to win the title and are genuine contenders. This is based on their current third position in the Premiership and we know they are a team who are hard to handle and we expect a tough game.

"When we played them in Round 2 we really struggled against them and we only beat them at the very end by a single point.

"In my opinion they deserved to win that game but we realise the mistakes we made and we are going to work on them and ensure we do not produce the same errors this time.

"The return leg this Saturday will not be an easy task as we will be playing away but, as I said earlier, we are going to approach it as a final stage game, a knock-out game.

"Because, if we lose, I do not think we will qualify. It'll be a high quality international fixture with a lot of movement and physically very committed and demanding. I believe that Saracens will be thinking along similar lines in that they have to beat us to qualify so we can expect an extremely tense game.

"And because there is no risk of relegation in a Heineken Cup situation, we tend to play in a more relaxed way and are able to produce more positive rugby.

"In the French Championship you not only have the threat of being relegated but there is also qualification for Europe at stake so although the pressure is not as great the stress is still there for Biarritz Olympique because it would be such a blow not to qualify for the quarter-finals and our players would take it badly.

"The way we approach the two tournaments is different and switching between from one week to the next isn't always easy but staff and players are aware of that and try their best to adapt accordingly. For the game against Saracens our preparation will be based on playing more attacking rugby and on the technical and tactical aspects."

HEINEKEN CUP 2007 / 2008

(All kick-offs LOCAL times)


Pool 2 Ulster Rugby v Bourgoin 19.30 James Jones (W)
Pool 3 Stade Français Paris v Bristol Rugby 21.00 George Clancy (I) Canal+ / Sky Sports ***
Pool 3 Cardiff Blues v Harlequins 20.00 Romain Poite (F) Sky Sports

Pool 1 London Irish v Newport Gwent Dragons 13.30 Peter Allan (S) S4C** / Sky Sports
Pool 1 Perpignan v Benetton Treviso 18.30 Tim Hayes (W) Sport+
Pool 2 Ospreys v Gloucester Rugby 17.30 Allan Lewis (I) Sky Sports
Pool 4 Saracens v Biarritz Olympique 15.30 Nigel Owens (W) FR2 / Sky Sports
Pool 4 Viadana v Glasgow Warriors 14.30 Jerome Garces (F) Sky Italia / Sky Sports ***
Pool 6 Leinster v Toulouse 13.30 Wayne Barnes (E) Sky Sports/ Canal+ Sport/RTE**
Pool 6 Edinburgh v Leicester Tigers 15.30 Peter Fitzgibbon (I)


Pool 5 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Munster 16.00 Rob Debney (E) FR2 / Sky Sports/RTE**
Pool 5 London Wasps v Llanelli Scarlets 13.00 Christophe Berdos (F) Sky Sports / Sport+

** Highlights *** Live via interactive


Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.